press release only in german

The exhibition curated by Janneke de Vries will display a key work of the concept artist Marianne Wex (b. 1937 in Hamburg). Rooted in the framework of the 1970s feminist movement, it examines the relationship between space and body through the medium of photography and the appropriation of discovered pictorial material. The group exhibition with contemporary artists uses sculpture, photographs, films and performances to trace and mirror a variety of connecting lines to Wex’s oeuvre and to the themes of gender and space.

In the years 1972 to 1977, Marianne Wex photographed people and their postures in the streets of Hamburg, subsequently subdividing the resultant pictures into diverse categories. She juxtaposed the specific ways in which women and men used and moved their arms and legs, feet, knees, elbows, hands, shoulders and heads. Her concern was for the extent to which gender-specific conditioning and hierarchies were reflected in day-to-day poses and gestures. In order to extend the scope of her inquiry, Wex supplemented her some 5,000 photographs from the public sphere with images photographed from the mass media and with comparative historical depictions derived from Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

The artist then transferred the substantial results of her researches onto panels bearing collages of the pictures and elucidatory texts. Following on from this installationary form, Wex then published a more comprehensive book entitled „Weibliche“ und „Männliche“ Körpersprache als Folge patriarchalischer Machtverhältnisse [‘Female’ and ‘Male’ Body Language as a Consequence of Patriarchal Power Relationships] (1979). The panels and book open up a broad spectrum of photographic source material – from street photographs and pictures from photo-journalism via ads, reproductions from art history or snapshots from family albums, to pornographic pictures, photos of famous personalities and television and film stills.

Wex’s photo-panels were put on display for the first time as of the part of the Künstlerinnen International 1877-1977 [Female Artists International 1877—1977] exhibition in the NGBK in Berlin. At the end of the 1970s and in the early 1980s they passed through a number of national and international exhibitions, but then fell largely into neglect in an artistic context. It was not until 2009 that a part of this body language project was again exhibited, in the Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea. In 2012, the Badische Kunstverein, Karlsruhe became the first gallery to exhibit all existing panels from the ‘Female’ and ‘Male’ Body Language project.

Marianne Wex’s photographic project is conceptual to the highest degree. On the one hand it evinces a specific manner of dealing with photography as a medium and with the appropriation of found pictorial material. On the other hand, the work positions itself within the context of the feminist movement of the 1970s, examining the relationship between body and space (hence the title of the English book version: Let’s Get Back Our Space).

Taking the issues broached in Wex’s photographic atlas as its starting point, the exhibition will trace lines of connection linking up with the current-day production of contemporary artists, female and male. Thus, Matt Keegan (b. 1976, lives and works in New York), for example, in his 2012 C-prints Men und Women seems to take up ideas from Wex directly, revealing gender-specific body postures in the language of advertising media. In her dance-poles, paintings and photograms, Shannon Bool (b. 1972, lives and works in Berlin) explores related issues while, however, additionally employing art-historical traditions and the ambient architectural space. In his film 7 Minutes, Jeremy Shaw (b. 1977, lives and works in Berlin) plays with and ultimately de-activates gender ascription mechanisms. Nina Hoffmann (b. 1980, lives and works in Berlin) also questions such gender ascriptions by re-connecting these with strategies from the beginning of the 20th century in order to evaluate the recent status of gender equality in today’s art world. Julika Rudelius (b. 1968, lives and works in Frankfurt/Main) stages Chinese men in their accordingly connoted surrounding but then in poses and gestures associated with the West.

Janneke de Vries (b. 1968) is Head of the Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst (GAK) in Bremen. She studied Art History, Modern German Literature and European Ethnology at the Phillips-Universität Marburg and the Universität Hamburg. Even during her degree, Janneke de Vries worked freelance at the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt am Main and was a published art critic in both the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper and the magazines artist (Bremen) and Bildende Kunst. From 1999 to 2003 de Vries was Editor-in-Chief of the art magazine artkaleidoskope in Frankfurt am Main. As well as freelance creation of projects and a role as a research assistant for Yilmaz Dziewior at the Kunstverein in Hamburg, she also became the Head of the Kunstverein Braunschweig in 2006. She is also a freelance critic for publications including the art magazines artist, Dare and Texte zur Kunst and in various catalogues.

Next to solo exhibitions with a.o. Kathrin Sonntag, Kate Newby, Shannon Bool, Mark Wallinger, Till Krause, John Stezaker, Cezary Bodzianowski, Matt Mullican, Sarah Ortmeyer, Cathy Wilkes, Mariechen Danz or Vlassis Caniaris she organized international group exhibitions such as Um-Kehrungen, Space Revised_Friendly Takeovers, An einem schönen Morgen des Monats Mai..., Beyond Words, Die Geometrie der Dinge oder kürzlich Girls can tell.